Cal Basketball Hall of Fame player Gene Ransom shot, killed on I-880

photo of Gene Ransom
Daily Cal Archives/File
Gene Ransom, a member of the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame, died at age 65 after being shot while driving on I-880 in Oakland.

Gene “The Dream” Ransom, one of the most successful basketball players to come out of UC Berkeley, was killed Feb. 4 while driving on I-880 in Oakland.

Ransom held the UC Berkeley record for most minutes played in a game, according to the Cal Bears website, and eventually had a career in both the NBA and minor leagues. During a trip to see his girlfriend in West Oakland, a man pulled up next to him in a black sedan and fatally shot him in the head. Ransom was 65 years old.

The alleged killer, Juan Angel Garcia, has now been charged with felony murder and felony use of a firearm by Alameda County, in addition to other charges, according to ABC 7 News. Garcia was pursuing Ransom on the I-880 in Oakland for an unknown reason, according to documents released by investigators.

As the two approached Oak Street, Garcia pulled up parallel to Ransom’s car and shot him in the head, causing Ransom’s car to skid across traffic and into a cement wall. According to ABC 7 News, Ransom was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ransom left UC Berkeley in 1979, where he played basketball for three years and was inducted into the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001, the Cal Bears website noted.

“Gene was one of the greatest players in our men’s basketball program’s history, and he will be greatly missed,” said Gerrit Van Genderen, spokesperson for Cal Athletics in an email.

As a point guard for Cal Basketball in the class of 1979, Ransom maintained a 14.8 points per game average, according to the Cal Bears website. Upon graduating, Ransom ranked first in number of steals and fifth on assists in all of Cal history.

Ransom signed to the Warriors but switched to the Oakland A’s minor league team soon after the season began, according to a Berkeleyside article. After his professional career, Ransom returned to his alma mater to coach the Berkeley High Jackets in 1999, leading the freshman boys team to a 27-0 record.

“I never felt like I was just on a team and it was just about basketball,” said former Berkeley High School player Doni Noble in writing to Berkeleyside. “It felt like a family.”

Basketball also drove Ransom’s involvement in Athletes United for Peace, a nonprofit aiming to improve the quality of life for community youth using sports as positive outlets.

Ransom’s son, Thaxter Ransom, commended his father’s widespread impact on others in the basketball community and beyond.

“He opened the door for future basketball stars who came out of the Bay Area,” Thaxter Ransom said in a statement. “He was looked up to and loved by many.”

Contact Lily Button and Cindy Liu at [email protected].